AN advocacy group released a statement Friday that they have started their countdown in the implementation of the Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) Law to be implemented on November 5, 2015.
New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) President Engr. Emer L. Rojas said his group, along with Akbayan party-list and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), is closely watching over the implementation after it was signed into law more than a year ago.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd signed the passage of Republic Act No. 10643, or the GHW Law in July 15, 2014.
Rojas added that although the rules and regulations are still being finalized, he hopes that the tobacco industry would fully comply within the year.
Once implemented, graphic text and picture health warnings will be printed, covering 50% of the bottom front and back panels of all cigarette packs as part of the ongoing tobacco regulation advocacy in the country.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier provided 12 sample templates that can be printed on cigarette packs once the GHW Law takes effect.
“What we’re doing now is to raise the awareness that the law should be implemented at least two months after November 5 this year,” Rojas said in a mix of Filipino and English.
NVAP is cancer prevention and tobacco control advocacy group comprised mainly of throat cancer victims or people without vocal cords who speak through alternate means.
Their head, Rojas, is a stage 4 throat cancer survivor.
The GHW Law, according to Rojas, would not only reduce smoking prevalence in the country, but also curb the risk of terminal illnesses like cancer.
“For many years we have been seeing thousands of people getting ill and dying of cancer due to tobacco consumption. [Around] 240 Filipinos die due to smoking-related diseases every day. We say we had enough,” Rojas emphasized.
He also addressed reports that there are motions to delay the implementation of the GHW Law to March 2016.
This, Rojas said, would violate the law and there would be an imposed penalty against those responsible for its implementation.
NVAP and other anti-smoking advocates are also hopeful that these graphic text and pictorial warnings, along with the existing Sin Tax Law, would motivate a large percentage of Filipinos to quit smoking in the following years.
“Let us all do our share in saving lives. The life you save could be yours. Ipanawagan natin ang pagpapatupad ng batas. Ito ay ating karapatan. Ito ay ating kalusugan, [Let us all uphold the rule of law. It is our right. It is for our health],” Rojas said.